HAMMOND — Second-seeded St. Thomas Aquinas outscored Pickering 20-10 in the fourth quarter to wrap up a 66-60 come-from-behind victory in the Class 2A girls semifinal that concluded Friday’s action at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s The Advocate/Southeast Regional basketball tournament.
Amber Donnes scored a game-high 25 points and corralled 13 rebounds for the Falcons (29-5), who advance to play defending champion John Curtis in the 2A title game next weekend in Monroe.
A crowd of 2,721 attended the three-game session at SLU’s University Center. Salmen and St. Thomas won 4A semifinals before the 2A game. Alli Seale (17) and Carly Keller (11) were other double-digit scorers for STA.
Sami Thomas, who scored 16 first-half points, had 20 to pace Pickering (29-4). Amy McKellar (15) and Jordan Sellers (10) also led the Devils.
Seale and Keller each scored five points in the final 3:29 to help power the decisive Falcons surge. Seale’s steal and layup at the 3:29 mark gave STA the lead for good at 61-59.
St. Thomas Aquinas took the early lead on a basket and free throw by Donnes. Pickering’s Thomas countered with a 3-pointer to tie it. Pickering led by as much as four points in the first quarter.
But it was STA that fought back to take a 13-11 lead on a layup by Courtney Dawsey, who went coast-to-coast with 45.9 seconds remaining. A bank shot by Thomas with 2.9 seconds left tied the score going into the second quarter.
The offenses loosened up in the second quarter. The score was tied four times and lead changed hands three times. The Falcons led by as much as five points. But Pickering fought back to tie it and took a 35-33 lead into the locker room, thanks to a 10-foot jumper in the lane by Thomas with 2.9 seconds to go.
Pickering opened the third quarter with 9-2 run and upped its lead to nine, at 44-35 with 3:53 remaining. The Falcons rallied and got within three, at 49-46, on a jumper by Porscha Walker with 20.6 seconds left. Pickering led 50-46 going into the final quarter. The score was tied five times in the fourth quarter before Seale gave STA the lead for good.